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Dairy Relief Sought by Elected Officials


U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Representatives Collin Peterson, Tim Walz, Rick Nolan, and Tom Emmer have urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide relief to dairy farmers in Minnesota and across the country.

Nearly 3,500 Minnesota dairy farmers produce 9.5 billion pounds of milk each year. Despite the industry’s strength and efficiency, dairy farmers have been hit hard by low milk prices that have resulted in sharply reduced incomes.

In a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, the federal lawmakers ask the agency to take the necessary steps to make milk an agricultural commodity eligible for the Federal Crop Insurance program and to work with the Risk Management Agency to develop additional insurance products for dairy farmers.

“As low milk prices and increased production costs are expected to continue, we believe it is imperative that USDA take immediate action to provide critical support to dairy farmers as we continue to explore longer-term changes in the next Farm Bill,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to use existing law to expand and enhance insurance products for dairy farmers. Milk is a commodity that should be eligible for policies through the Federal Crop Insurance Program.”

Last year, following efforts from Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz, and Nolan, the USDA announced plans to help dairy producers and families in need. The lawmakers also urged the agency to use its authority to take action to protect the nation’s dairy farmers from further crisis and aid the expansion and maintenance of domestic farmers.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is below.

Dear Secretary Perdue,

We write to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide relief to dairy farmers in Minnesota and across the country. Specifically, we ask that you take the necessary steps to make milk an agricultural commodity eligible for the Federal Crop Insurance program and that you work with the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to develop additional insurance products for dairy farmers. 

Nearly 3,500 Minnesota dairy farms produce 9.5 billion pounds of milk each year. These dairy producers play an important role in Minnesota’s agricultural economy, as well as the state’s other economic sectors including manufacturing, trade, transportation and construction.

Despite the industry’s strength and efficiency, dairy farmers have been hit hard by low milk prices that have resulted in sharply reduced incomes. These struggles with low milk prices have been compounded by new trade barriers in export markets and ongoing difficulties with the Margin Protection Program. As low milk prices and increased production costs are expected to continue, we believe it is imperative that USDA take immediate action to provide critical support to dairy farmers as we continue to explore longer-term changes in the next Farm Bill.

We urge you to use existing law to expand and enhance insurance products for dairy farmers. Milk is a commodity that should be eligible for policies through the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 included language clarifying that Congress did not intend for livestock products like milk to be excluded from livestock insurance policies.

We request that RMA work with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to make milk an agricultural commodity eligible for Federal Crop Insurance coverage. Additionally, we urge the RMA to develop additional dairy insurance products to support this critical industry.

Thank you for your consideration.

Source: Farm & Ranch Guide

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